Amid ‘Scam’ Accusations, Social Ad Firm Offerpal Installs A New CEO

In-game and social media ad firm Offerpal Media has a new CEO: former Mochi Media Chairman and CEO George Garrick. Garrick is replacing Anu Shukla (pictured), who founded the company in 2007. In a statement, Shukla said the decision to bring in Garrick came after “many months” of searching.

It is just unfortunate timing then, that the executive shift comes about a week after Offerpal was accused of running “scammy” ads during a panel at the Virtual Goods Summit.

Performance-based game ad firms like Offerpal and SuperRewards run campaigns that give players rewards like virtual credits, in exchange for completing surveys and trial offers from companies like *Netflix*. In some cases, people have complained that vendors don’t disclose the full terms of the trial — that a user needs to opt-out within a specific time period to avoid being charged, for example — or fail to deliver the reward after the user trades their information. There were also allegations that the ads unfairly targeted kids that didn’t know better.

Fallout from the panel and subsequent discussion in the blogosphere led to official policies banning “app scams” from MySpace and gaming companies like Zynga and RockYou. (Meanwhile, executives like Playfish COO Sebastien de Halleux have maintained that it is the game developer’s job — not the ad vendor’s — to avoid using “scammy” offers in the first place).

Offerpal posted its own rebuttal to the bad press; Shukla also did an in-depth interview with VentureBeat. In it, she explained that the company processed about four million offer-based transactions per month, roughly 10,000 of which — or one percent — drew complaints from users that felt like the offers they’d signed up for weren’t legit. She also maintained that the company didn’t advertise to kids under 13, and that Offerpal’s ads were fully FTC compliant.

Offerpal is backed by nearly $20 million in funding from D.E. Shaw Ventures, InterWest Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners. Release.